Philo Sophie Keel Re-bed
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I went through the keel rebed saga last summer. It was your web site that convinced me this was a doable project. I thought I'd return the favor and give some information for future Pearson 26 owners on how I did my own keel bolt replacement without the use of any heavy lifting devices.

We're fairly poor sailors, so when I decided to do a keel rebed on "Philo Sophie" we knew it would be on the cheap. Instead of removing the keel I decided it would be easier and cheaper to move the rest of the boat.

First important step - TAKE DOWN THE MAST!!! I was all ready to unbolt the keel when someone pointed out that the boat would happily flip over without the weight of the keel. Luckily for me Mark Gardner and his Gin pole came to the rescue. It only took about a half hour to unstep the mast and cost me nothing.

Second step - prep the keel. Remove as much bedding from around the keel as you can.

Third step - brace the keel. I built a stand of 4X4 lumber bolted right to the cradle in order to hold the keel in place. I backed this up with a jackstand at the forward end of the keel just aft of the first bolt.

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Fourth Step - brace the hull. I borrowed many jack stands and placed them liberally around the boat. I made sure they were all long enough so that I would be able to lift the boat about a foot using them.

Fifth step - remove the bolts. Start with the forward and aft most bolt and then replace them with three foot long threaded rods with nuts at both ends. This will be used to keep things in line. I was able to strong arm off the visible bolts after a liberal application of liquid wrench. The two covered bolts I picked and finagled at them until in a fit of desperation I taped a shield in place and cut straight down through them using an angle grinder. Lots of sparks, but you can cut through each bolt in about 15 minutes and grind the area level with the washer. I borrowed a box fan from Mark Gardner and installed it in the companionway with some sheet plastic taped in place and all the smoke and dust blew right out the forward hatch during this operation.

Sixth - lift the boat. Turn each jack stand one turn and keep on walking around the boat. At some point the keel will start lifting out of the stand you built. STOP. You've got to wait for the seal on the bedding compound to break. It might take a bit of encouragement by grabbing the aft end of the keel and wiggling it. This is very scary. At one point it will separate quite dramatically. You'll know it when it happens. This procedure can take a few hours. Then continue jacking up the hull until you've got enough room to work between the keel and the hull.

Seven - clean out the old latex. Get the steel bright and clean. Make sure there's none stuck on the hull either. We used a paint scraper and a random orbit sander and many other tools. Thanks to the first mate for doing this rather cramped horrendous job. That's why we renamed the boat after her.

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Eight - get eight tubes of 5200 and lay it on thick on the keel. Immediately start lowering the hull using the jackstands a turn at a time. Don't be surprised that a lot of the 5200 will squeeze out at this point.

Nine - put in the new keel bolts. Place some 5200 on the unthreaded portion of the bolt near the head to make it stick and seal in place. Use the threaded rods to wiggle the keel while someone puts the bolts in from below. Don't tighten the bolts until the 5200 has had a chance to cure overnight.

Ten - the final tightening of the bolts. I used my regular socket wrench set and tightened it as hard as I could. Go over all the bolts three times.

Eleven - fair the gap between the hull and the keel. I mixed my own fairing using west system. Messy, but very satisfying.

Thanks to Mark Gardner and his family for helping me with this project and allowing my wife and I to live in his living room for weeks on end!!!! Without Mark's fantastic advice I would have never completed our wonderful boat.

Robert M. Idsinga
Sophie Daoust
"Philo Sophie" Pearson 26

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